The meeting was attended by EU Affairs and Transport Ministers from Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, EU Commissioners Dimitris Avramopoulos and Violeta Bulc, as well as the EU's Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove.
Reacting to the announcement of the extraordinary meeting, the Alliance Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament (ALDE) reiterated their call for closer cooperation between EU intelligence agencies. Group leader Guy Verhofstadt stated: "The attempted massacre on a Thalys train last week shows how urgent it is that national intelligence agencies in the EU share information and work more closely together."
Commission spokesman Jakub Adamowicz warned against overreaction, recalling that tighter security would slow boarding and create costs and logistical problems.
In an official press release following the meeting, Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc stated: "The security and safety of passengers is our first priority. But of course we must not overreact. It is essential that, as far as possible, public transport remains open and easily accessible. Security must be proportionate to the threat."
"The statement adopted today will give new impetus for enhancing rail security. The Commission will now work very closely with the EU Member States and industry experts in order to find ways of enhancing cross-border rail security in a proportionate manner."
Among the next steps agreed at the meeting is the European Counter Terrorist Centre, which will be quickly established within Europol to reinforce the exchange of information between national authorities. The European Commission has also committed to speeding up the presentation of initiatives related to detention and to the disabling of weapons.
Nine countries, including France, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy, decided to increase, “where necessary”, identity checks of passengers and luggage on stations and trains.
Commissioner Violeta Bulc has mandated the land transport security expert group (LANDSEC) to discuss current best practices in rail security at the next meeting of the expert group on September 11 2015. Rail security is also expected to be discussed at the upcoming Council meeting on October 8 2015.
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